PSA: If You Have To Tell Everyone It’s Satire, You’re Bad At Satire

April 8, 2016 by  
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Have we run out of would-be satirists yet?

Venerable food writer Calvin Trillin, in the latest issue of The New Yorker, poses the question to us all once again, in the form of a humorous poem entitled “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?


If they haven’t, we’ve reason to fret.
Long ago, there was just Cantonese.
(Long ago, we were easy to please.)
But then food from Szechuan came our way,
Making Cantonese strictly passé.

The poem concludes with nostalgia for long-past days “When we never were faced with the threat / Of more provinces we hadn’t met.” 

The oddly tone-deaf poem faced sharp backlash on Twitter, with many Asian writers voicing dismay with the doggerel verse’s undertones of yellow panic and xenophobia. But of course, Trillin and various defenders made a common reply for those who run afoul of social justice activists these days: The poem was satire, and therefore the outrage was misdirected. As author Celeste Ng pointed out, the label of satire is all too often used as a retroactive excuse for simple bigotry.

PSA: "It's satire!" should not be used as a safety net for poorly conceived, poorly executed, or unwisely published pieces.

— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) April 7, 2016

A nasty outburst brushed under the rug (“he’s just a satirist, you know”) or a comedy piece with racist undertones recast in a more positive light (“it was meant to be satire”) fit this bill, and Trillin’s might. He clearly aimed for humorous poetry, not aggressive racism, but the satire bit … eh, that’s unclear. But the satire excuse isn’t just problematic because it’s used to cover up for offensive, non-satirical garbage, but because it erases the responsibility to execute satire well. If something is intended as satire but poorly done, satire is no get-out-of-jail-free card, something many authors — Michel Houellebecq and Jonathan Franzen, for example — and their admirers don’t seem to grasp.

Like ironic racism, misguided satire is a favored pastime of the denizens of certain pockets of white male privilege. Also like ironic racism, bad satire often manifests as a pointless reenactment of hurtful stereotypes and tropes. “Look, here I am, saying horrifying things that are painful for the less powerful to hear, as people in positions of hegemonic privilege tend to do!” say these writers, chortling at their self-deprecation. Such satire doesn’t really achieve anything because it fails to puncture a widely accepted and yet problematic way of thinking; it’s performative both of one’s own enlightenment and, in a perverse way, the regressive thoughts lying underneath.

Perhaps Trillin really did want to make a point about moneyed white food critics, but it feels akin to taking a group of affluent students on a field trip to gaze upon the difficult living conditions of homeless people in their town. Those kids might learn a valuable lesson, but their education is being won at the expense of the dignity of those from whom they’re learning. Every marginalized group or person is not a potential tool in the enlightenment of a white man. (For what it’s worth, white men don’t even hold a monopoly on clumsy satire and ironic racism — see Chelsea Handler’s “Uganda Be Kidding Me“ and Chris Rock’s appalling Asian accountant gag at the Oscars.)

Well-off white dudes aren’t new to using minority cultures as props to playfully skewer their own highly entitled communities’ foibles — in theory, it might be satire of the white community, but ultimately more insulting to, in this case, Chinese people, whose varied cultures and cuisines play no more than a bit role in this charming tale of American foodies who are just a bit too obsessed with keeping up with their fellow gourmands. Chinese cuisines merely make the grade as props in a discussion by and about white American restaurant culture, of which Trillin is very much a part.

As Jezebel editor Jia Tolentino put it in the comments section of the site’s truly brilliant takedown, A Sixth-Grader Writes a Book Report About the New Calvin Trillin Poem in The New Yorker, “the call is deeeeeeply coming from inside the house in a way that makes me stop and say … why.” 

Another commenter responded, calling it “Columbusing Columbusing” — basically, acting like he’d discovered how white people act like they’ve discovered things that were actually invented by people of color. (Hint: Asian activists and writers have been talking about the problematic way white people talk about and appropriate Asian cuisines for a long time.) Worse, he was doing it in a way that clumsily missed that target and seemed to mock white food enthusiasts merely for chasing trends rather than for insensitivity toward Chinese cultures — while making a bit too much comical hay from the “too many to name” provinces from Szechuan to Shaanxi.

This poem, at best, achieves painfully muddled messaging. “Have they run out of provinces yet?” the poem repeatedly asks, not specifying who “they” might be, but in context, implying a vague Asiatic other of threateningly indeterminate hugeness. “They,” the entity throwing out province after province of Chinese cuisine, juxtaposes with “we,” the gormless Western foodies slurping up each dish in turn. It is, quite literally, us vs. them.

.@NewYorker the answer is YES soon the world is going to run out of provinces for basic whites to gaze on and consume and toss to the side

— RICH HOMIE HUANG (@MrEddieHuang) April 6, 2016

Trillin defended himself to The Guardian’s Julia Carrie Wong, saying that he’d previously written a similar poem about French food published in The New Yorker. “It was not a put-down of the French,” he said. The poem, “What Happened to Brie and Chablis,” however, doesn’t at any point seem to take aim at a proliferation of French cuisines, or seem overwhelmed at the innumerable French regions, instead more directly tweaking foodie culture for chasing trends and abandoning long-established classic dishes like coq-au-vin:


You miss, let’s say, trout amandine?
Take hope from some menus I’ve seen.
Fondue has been spotted of late
And — yes, to my near disbelief –
Tartare not from tuna but beef.
They all may return. Just you wait.

The notable difference — it’s clearly a lamentation about beloved foods going out of style, not about a more diverse array of regional cuisines being brought to the marketplace. Besides, as author Matthew Salesses pointed out:

The worst defense & same as always: "you wouldn't call it racist if it was abt white folks!"

Well, duh, bec racism. https://t.co/89hk4bWJMy

— Matthew Salesses (@salesses) April 7, 2016

Others pointed out that he loves Chinese food and would never intentionally write such a poem with any intention but to mock white foodies. On The Stranger, Rich Smith quoted English professor Samuel Cohen: “He’s been a food writer and poet of doggerel verse for a million years and I’ve seen him riding his bike around Chinatown, where he loves to eat. He is not actually complaining about the variety of regional Chinese cuisines and he is not actually nostalgic for the days of chow mein.“ Fair enough. As Smith added, “I think that’s a bold bit of irony! … It rests on Trillin’s reputation, which me and many poets my age seem to be unaware of.” 

Guess what: Good satire shouldn’t rest on the author’s reputation. It’s not in the intent, or the reputation — it’s in the execution. Cohen, and Trillin, are old enough, and well-educated enough, to know this. As a mere high schooler completing an assignment to write a 500-word satirical essay in the tradition of Jonathan Swift, I turned in an over-the-top piece making an argument I personally found absurd, and was surprised to receive it back with the comment that it wasn’t really satire. “There are people who would write this without any satirical intent,” my teacher told me. “But … you know I don’t think this!” I said. “You can’t assume that your audience already knows what you think,” he explained.

If the success of a satirical piece depends on your audience already knowing what you think, that piece is in trouble — even if you’re Calvin Trillin. If you find out that everyone is reading it dramatically differently from how you intended it, that’s an opportunity for reflection on your subconscious biases, and your writing skills. Unfortunately, stomping your feet and saying “it’s satire” doesn’t make it so.

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Jennifer Lawrence Is Happy To Please, As Long As She’s Being Paid Fairly

April 7, 2016 by  
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When Jennifer Lawrence penned her thoughtful essay on the wage gap in Hollywood, she wasn’t expecting it to become a viral sensation. But, being a celebrity, those things happen. 

In the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, the “Joy” actress talks about the reception to her Lenny letter, admitting that she only focused on the negative feedback. 

“I obviously only absorbed the negative. I didn’t pay attention to the positive feedback,” she said. “My parents get really upset. They do not like me speaking out about anything political because it’s hard to see your kid take criticism.”

But JLaw realized that most of her critics were “people who think women should not be paid the same as men. So I don’t really care what those people think.” 

The Oscar winner, who acknowledged her privilege in the letter, added, “I try not to be too sensitive to the ‘poor rich girl’ jokes. I was saying my reality is absolutely fabulous, but it is not the reality of a lot of women in America. That’s what I’m talking about.” 

In her essay, Lawrence also noted that she’s “over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable!” But at the same time, she’s decided it’s OK to be a people-pleaser sometimes, “if you’re smart about it” and you’re “getting what’s fair.”

“You know, I want my employers to be happy. I want to please anyone I’m working for as long as they pay me the appropriate amount,” she told the magazine. “I’ll make them as happy as they want.”

To read more from her interview with Harper’s Bazaar, head over to their website or pick up the issue when it hits newsstands on April 19. 

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The Internet Helps Donald Trump Find A #NewTrumpCampaignManager

April 6, 2016 by  
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Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery last Tuesday after he allegedly assaulted a reporter at an event in Florida.

The Trump camp denies any wrongdoing — SHOCK — but just in case Lewandowski is eventually removed from his post, the Internet united to help find a sufficient replacement for him under the hashtag #NewTrumpCampaignManager.

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Wants Disenfranchised Wisconsinites To Stop ‘Whining’

April 5, 2016 by  
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Ruthelle Frank is an 87-year-old resident of Wisconsin who had voted in every election since 1948 and served on her local village board for nearly two decades. In October 2011, she found out that she needed to obtain, for the first time in her life, an ID card in order to go on voting in Wisconsin. The process she endured, which she laid out for The Guardian three years later, can best be described as stupefyingly insane.

She’s hardly alone. Draconian voter ID laws shepherded into existence by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have put the legal votes of an estimated 300,000 residents of the state in jeopardy ahead of Tuesday’s primary. As you might expect, these restrictions fall most heavily on some specific groups: African-Americans, veterans, the elderly, students and the working poor. But to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, their disenfranchisement, and the public outcry it has induced, is not worth a tinker’s damn.

Nonstop whining out of Wisconsin suggesting voters are being disenfranchised against the backdrop of RECORD BREAKING TURNOUT in Wisconsin.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) April 5, 2016

Oh, for sure. It’s just “whining,” this whole not having a legal remedy to getting one’s vote stolen. And it’s especially déclasséthis “whining,” because the turnout in this particular primary election is slated to be so high. I’m not sure if Scarborough truly understands how voting actually works. It doesn’t occur to him that maybe you could have especially high voter turnout and an especially high rate of stolen votes simultaneously. It’s also not clear how these voters will get their votes back if they cease all “whining.”

It’s sufficient to say that Scarborough does not know what he’s talking about, an evergreen news story if there ever was. Because if he spent even three minutes exploring this matter on Google (or had whoever does that at MSNBC do it for him), he’d learn all sorts of interesting things about the state of voter disenfranchisement in Wisconsin.

Aside from hearing the stories of other Wisconsin residents who were thrown into the same Kafkaesque nightmare as Frank, he’d learn that the state officials tasked with explaining how to cast a vote in this new electoral regime don’t seem to be able to do so. He’d learn that the voter ID law has left a public education campaign that the state was required by law to embark upon as an unfunded mandate. He’d learn that conservative Judge Richard A. Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, among other complaints, says that the law is definitely a form of poll tax, as the Los Angeles Times reported:


Then there’s the argument that getting a photo ID is easy and cheap, and therefore that people without them must not care enough about voting to bother. The three-judge panel wrote that obtaining a photo ID merely requires people “to scrounge up a birth certificate and stand in line at the office that issues driver’s licenses.” Posner replies that he himself “has never seen his birth certificate and does not know how he would go about ‘scrounging’ it up.” Posner appends a sheaf of documents handed to an applicant seeking a photo ID for whom no birth certificate could be found in state records. It ran to 12 pages.

As for its supposedly negligible cost, “that’s an easy assumption for federal judges to make, since we are given photo IDs by court security free of charge. And we have upper-middle-class salaries. Not everyone is so fortunate.” He cites a study placing the expense of obtaining documentation at $75 to $175 — which even when adjusted for inflation is far higher than “the $1.50 poll tax outlawed by the 24th amendment in 1964.”

Maybe Scarborough could watch his own network’s reporting

That Wisconsin’s voter restrictions prevent predominantly poor and minority citizens from doing do is the reason the voter restrictions exist in the first place. But voter turnout is high and as long as Scarborough’s affluent white peers are counted, the rest is just whining.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

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Politico Speeds Up Management Transition As Co-Founder Jim VandeHei Nears Exit

April 4, 2016 by  
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NEW YORK — Politico president and co-founder Jim VandeHei is likely to soon leave the company he co-founded, roughly seven months ahead of the previously announced schedule. 

Politico said in January that VandeHei and star political writer Mike Allen would depart the company after the November election. HuffPost reported at the time that VandeHei had clashed with owner Robert Allbritton over budgets and wanted to start his own media venture. 

VandeHei has had little presence of late in the company’s newsroom just outside Washington in Rosslyn, Virginia, according to staffers. Some said his influence has waned so much that it was a surprise last week when VandeHei was identified on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as Politico CEO and president. 

But Politico hadn’t officially announced any change in VandeHei’s status until Monday night. In a staff memo, co-founder and editor-in-chief John Harris said VandeHei would be leaving sometime this spring. A source familiar with the move said it was likely to happen this month. 

Harris told staff that he and VandeHei had “worked closely on a smooth transition that worked in the best interests of the publication and its new leadership team.”

In the memo, Harris touted recent Politico achievements, including a record 30 million unique visitors in the past month. “Having not only met but surpassed our goals, Jim and I and agreed that it made sense for him to wrap up his tenure at Politico this spring,” Harris wrote.

Harris said in the memo that chief operating officer Kim Kingsley and chief revenue officer Roy Schwartz — both of whom were announced in January to be leaving sometime later this year — also will depart this spring. 

Executive vice president Danielle Jones, who was among those Politico had said was leaving, will continue working for the publication as a consultant, Harris said. 

The memo didn’t mention Allen, who is said to be joining VandeHei in a future venture. Though there have been rumors inside Politico that Allen might leave after the Republican and Democratic conventions this summer, Politico has said the reporter will remain through the election. 

Politico will not only need to find a replacement for Allen, whose Politico Playbook remains a must-read and spawned a newsletter franchise for the company, but also editor Susan Glasser. She’s scheduled to keep the top newsroom job until November, when she’ll move to Israel to be with her husband, Peter Baker, and son.

Baker, a New York Times White House correspondent, has been tapped as the paper’s next Jerusalem bureau chief and will move there in the coming months.

Read Harris’ full memo to staff below:


Team,

As you know, Danielle Jones let us know a couple months ago that she was ready after nearly nine years to refashion her role at POLITICO. The really terrific news that has emerged from our conversations since then is that we have settled on an arrangement that will be much more robust — and allow her to provide much more benefit to the publication — than we at first had been expecting.

Later this month, Danielle will become a consultant to POLITICO, advising us on talent, both recruitment and personnel issues across the enterprise. This allows her to continue, on an effectively full-time basis, working on tasks she is singularly good at, thanks to her combination of shrewd judgment and gift for human connection. At the personal level, a consulting arrangement allows Danielle more flexibility, since her family is in Norfolk and in recent years she has been commuting back and forth. She will be here a lot, but also working part of the time from afar.

This is great and fun news for the company, and we expect it will be a great opportunity for Danielle to remain vitally engaged with a publication she loves and helped build.

This news comes as Robert Allbritton and I have been making good progress on some important fronts, including filling out our business team and, in the newsroom, finding a replacement for Susan Glasser as her family heads to the Middle East and she transitions to a new role with us after the election. I’ve had good brainstroming conversations with lots of you on these subjects, and would welcome hearing from anyone with thoughts. Please just reach out to Kate Murphy to get on my schedule.

This is a good moment to update you on the status of a few of our departing business colleagues. (To be honest we’ve had some media inquiries today on subjects that I assumed most people already knew…) 

From the moment that our friend and co-founder Jim Vandehei announced his departure, he and I worked closely on a smooth transition that worked in the best interests of the publication and its new leadership team. With the publication soaring journalistically and meeting its business goals, operational responsibilities were quickly taken over by the executive team that Robert Allbritton has tasked with leading our publication forward. As we shared with you this morning, in March POLITICO shattered all previous records with 30 million plus unique visitors – the most in company history. Additionally,  our total of 180 million-plus page views was up more than 230% from a year ago, and the homepage and POLITICO Magazine (with close to 6 million unique visitors and 15 million page views) also recorded best-ever months.  Having not only met but surpassed our goals, Jim and I and agreed that it made sense for him to wrap up his tenure at POLITICO this spring. We have had similiar conversations with Kim Kingsley and Roy Schwartz.  Robert agreed with our proposal, confident that the team here now is best-suited to take the wheel as we as plan for 2017 and beyond. 

Jim, Kim, and Roy have my thanks and Robert’s for their friendship and the phenomenal work they did over nearly a decade here. 

In the two months since this transition began, I’ve been impressed anew by the efforts of all parts of this enterprise — the power of our newsroom to own big stories, the passion of our business, finance, technology and strategy teams to meet the challenges of this era of nonstop disruption. This is what great publications do.

We will find time soon to celebrate POLITICO achievements, past and present, and talk more about the future.

John

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Donald Trump Has An Ace To Play Against Fox News

April 3, 2016 by  
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When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump launched a crusade against Fox News and its star anchor, Megyn Kelly, last summer, many political insiders saw the move as the beginning of the end of Trump’s upstart campaign.

Why would anyone seeking the Republican presidential nomination attack a network that reaches huge swaths of the Republican primary electorate? 

One answer is that Trump was angry with Kelly and Fox News after the anchor asked him a tough question during a Republican presidential debate in August. 

But in a newly published article Sunday in New York Magazine, author and journalist Gabriel Sherman reveals how Trump came to possess ultra-insider information about Fox News and its founder, Roger Ailes, that could be damaging if it were ever to be made public.

It’s this leverage, Sherman writes, that has so far discouraged Fox News from launching an all-out war on Trump. 

Below is an excerpt from Sherman’s piece:


It was also thanks to some information he had gathered that Trump was able to do something that no other Republican has done before: take on Fox News. An odd bit of coincidence had given him a card to play against Fox founder Roger Ailes. In 2014, I published a biography of Ailes, which upset the famously paranoid executive. Several months before it landed in stores, Ailes fired his longtime PR adviser Brian Lewis, accusing him of being a source. During Lewis’s severance negotiations, Lewis hired Judd Burstein, a powerhouse litigator, and claimed he had “bombs” that would destroy Ailes and Fox News. That’s when Trump got involved.

 

“When Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me,” Trump said. Burstein, it turned out, had worked for Trump briefly in the ’90s, and Ailes asked Trump to mediate.  Trump ran the negotiations out of his office at Trump Tower. “Roger [Ailes] had lawyers, very expensive lawyers, and they couldn’t do anything. I solved the problem.”  Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak. If Ailes ever truly went to war against Trump, Trump would have the arsenal to launch a retaliatory strike.

Sherman’s reporting may also help to explain why Trump was so willing to drop out of a major Fox News debate in Iowa in January, a decision that might have hobbled the campaign of a typical GOP candidate.

In March, Trump participated in a Fox News debate in Detroit, where he flagrantly violated the debate rules by consulting with his campaign manager during a commercial break. Fox did not penalize the Trump campaign.

A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign declined to comment on Sherman’s report. 

 

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Rhode Island Marketing Chief Quits Over Tourism Video Showing Iceland

April 3, 2016 by  
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BOSTON (Reuters) – A botched promotional campaign for Rhode Island that included a video that showed Reykjavik, Iceland, rather than the state capitol of Providence, has led to the resignation of a top marketing official, Governor Gina Raimondo said.

The smallest U.S. state will also recoup $120,000 it spent on the development of the video, which was released this week and was quickly mocked on line for a brief clip showing a skateboarder outside Reykjavik’s iconic Harpa concert hall.

Help tell Rhode Island's story by sharing our new brand video #weareRI https://t.co/alIIcZ2DIghttps://t.co/qh3YtF0q0s

— Gina Raimondo (@GinaRaimondo) March 29, 2016

“It’s unacceptable how many mistakes were made in this roll-out and we need to hold people accountable, because Rhode Islanders deserve better, taxpayers deserve better,” Raimondo told reporters late Friday.

Raimondo earlier in the week had played down the significance of the mistakes in the campaign, but reversed course after state residents lambasted the ad, and its slogan “cooler and warmer”, on Twitter and in local media.

We've heard you Rhode Island, and we are making changes, getting some money back @CommerceRI

— Gina Raimondo (@GinaRaimondo) April 1, 2016

Betsy Wall has resigned as marketing director of the Rhode Island Commerce Corp, which developed the campaign, Raimondo said. Wall could not be reached for immediate comment.

Raimondo said the state would seek out more public feedback before moving ahead with the promotional campaign.

“‘Cooler and warmer’ is not a tag line that Rhode Islanders like,” she said. “That much is clear.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by John Stonestreet)

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We’ve Had Enough With Failed Trade Policies

April 2, 2016 by  
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Many pundits were caught off-guard by the transpartisan fury over America’s trade policy rocking the presidential primary season. But it’s no surprise to me. I grew up in a working class family in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So I know why Americans have had enough of shiny promises, job-killing trade deals, and Wall Street bailouts that propel ordinary people into an economic nose dive.

Hard working Americans of all political stripes recognize when the rules have been rigged against them, because they live day-to-day with the results. No doubt revolutionary change is an appealing alternative.

Since the North American Free Trade (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization agreements in the mid-1990s, America has lost more than five million manufacturing jobs net. Millions of service sector jobs also have been offshored.

During the NAFTA era, my home state lost 68,000 manufacturing jobs — one out of seven in the state. Just one example: After Chrysler received billions in a 2009 bailout, it shut its Kenosha Engine facility, cut the last 800 jobs and moved operations to Mexico.

The damage extends beyond those who lose their jobs. They compete for non-offshorable service sector jobs, pushing down wages economy-wide, hurting communities coast to coast.

From Flint to El Paso and points beyond, Americans have been slammed by the trade double whammy: Firms and their well-paying jobs go away. Then just when assistance is most needed, tax bases shrivel so basic services get cut and infrastructure crumbles.

Bernie Sanders’ primary victories have finally forced the mainstream media to mention the millions of middle class livelihoods destroyed by trade policies. Now it’s time to face up to a second disastrous risk: These trade deals pose a direct frontal attack on a livable environment.

Pacts like the recently-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently sidelined without sufficient congressional support for passage, contain thousands of pages of enforceable rules that would fuel climate chaos and empower corporate polluters to challenge environmental laws across the globe.

And if the TPP were approved, the Department of Energy would be required to automatically approve all natural gas exports to the 11 other TPP countries, eliminating our government’s ability to make decisions about our energy future and incentivizing a boom in dangerous fracking. The extreme secrecy of TPP negotiations allowed the Obama administration to claim it was the greenest deal ever. But when the TPP text was finally disclosed late last year, environmental groups that the White House claimed supported it, such as NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife, joined the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, 350.org and scores of others in opposition.

Consider just one feature that sounds like the plot of a disaster movie. The TPP would empower foreign investors to drag the U.S. government to private international arbitration tribunals whenever they claim that our environmental, energy or climate policies violate expansive new TPP foreign investor privileges. Corporations can demand unlimited taxpayer compensation based on future profits ostensibly thwarted by the policy. There is no outside appeal.

If approved, the TPP would double U.S. exposure to this “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) regime. Overnight 9500 Japanese manufacturing and Australian mining giants, among other firms, could skirt our courts and laws to attack critical public interest safeguards.

It’s not hypothetical. Under similar NAFTA provisions, TransCanada is now demanding $15 billion in U.S. taxpayer compensation because our government (rightly) opposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

More than half of past ISDS suits have concluded with the government losing or settling. Billions have been paid to foreign companies. Already half of the new ISDS cases filed in recent years seek to enforce corporate rights to mine, extract gas and oil, and generate energy no matter the consequences to us and our environment.

Expanding this system through the TPP would block worldwide environmental and social progress while empowering corporations to undermine existing climate and environmental policies.

Remarkably, the TPP not only omits the word “climate” from its text, but does not require TPP signatories to comply with their United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commitments. This despite all TPP countries being climate convention signatories.

The bottom line: Our failed trade policies imperil both Americans’ livelihoods and the health of our planet — two reasons why the more people learn, the less they like them.

The bipartisan American trade revolt now underway demonstrates that we need to scrap these bad deals and demand real change. This is no time for half measures, bland reassurances, or waiting games.

With both our economy and environment at risk, Americans can no longer remain silent. We must send a strong message to current policymakers and candidates alike that the people and the environment come first. Those who trade away our jobs, our economy and our environment to the highest bidder must be stopped.

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Tom Hiddleston Blames Thor For Chicago’s Bad Weather

April 1, 2016 by  
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Thor, get it together. 

This week, Tom Hiddleston made an appearance during a live weather report for Chicago’s Fox 32 as his “Avengers” character, Loki. He pinpointed the source of the thunderstorms and rain over Chicago and the Midwest to his mighty brother, Thor.

“There’s this huge storm front coming in,” he said, “and all that means is that Chris Hemsworth has taken his hammer and he’s smashed it on the surface of the sky, and it’s gonna rain a helluva lot.” 

Science at its best. The God of Thunder at his worst. 

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Some Of Donald Trump’s Strongest Defenders Are Now Criticizing Him

March 31, 2016 by  
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Several of Donald Trump’s most vocal defenders are criticizing the GOP front-runner as his pattern of sexism becomes undeniably clear. 

The tide began to shift last week, after Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and later retweeted a meme comparing Heidi Cruz’s appearance to his wife, Melania, who is a former model. 

Then, in a Monday interview, Trump claimed his repeated disparaging comments about women — often about their appearance – were jokes. The next day, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with allegedly assaulting reporter Michelle Fields, prompting Trump to engage in some textbook victim-blaming. And on Wednesday, he floated “punishment” for women who have abortions. (He quickly backtracked on the remarks, suggesting doctors should be punished instead.) 

It’s become too much for some of Trump’s staunchest allies. 

Stephanie Cegielski, a former spokeswoman for a pro-Trump super PAC, published a scathing essay this week on xoJane, explaining why she had soured on the candidate. According to Cegielski, who worked for the Make America Great Again PAC, Trump’s candidacy was intended as a political protest, but spun out of hand as his infamous ego got in the way. 

“He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters,” Cegielski wrote. “The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.” 

Ultra-conservative pundit Ann Coulter, meanwhile, has gone out of her way to defend Trump countless times. But it appears even her support has its limits. Appearing on a podcast hosted by Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, Coulter said Trump had crossed the line with his tweets about Heidi Cruz. 

“Our candidate is mental,” Coulter said. “Do you realize our candidate is mental? It’s like constantly having to bail out your sixteen-year-old son from prison.”  

(However, as she wrote in a column Wednesday, Coulter still believes Trump is the GOP’s only hope for securing the White House.) 

Newt Gingrich, who previously praised the business mogul as an “ally to conservatism,” also criticized Trump for going after Cruz’s wife, calling the Twitter spat “utterly stupid” and a “wake-up call” for the candidate.

“It has frankly weakened everything that Trump ought to be strengthening,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “It sent a signal to women that is negative at a time when his numbers with the women are already bad. It sent a signal of instability to people who are beginning to say, ‘OK, maybe I’ve gotta get used to it, maybe I’ve gotta rely on him, maybe he could be presidential.’”

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, a longtime friend and business partner of Trump’s, lambasted his campaign’s sexist rhetoric in an interview with Katie Couric.

“He’s not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light,” she said. “Maybe he regrets [his remarks], maybe he doesn’t. I realize he punches hard when he punches back, but that’s just over the top. I wish that no candidate would make those comments.”

And after his abortion remarks Wednesday, Trump even earned ire from some anti-abortion groups.

“No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion,” said March for Life executive Jeanne Mancini. “This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said “punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits” from performing the procedure.

“We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion,” she added. 

As HuffPost Pollster noted Wednesday, his support could be waning elsewhere: Trump’s net favorables are down by 14 percent over the last two months.

Meanwhile, other conservatives, who are not Trump fans, are also speaking out against him. 

A group of 16 female reporters, many from conservative media outlets, called on the candidate to fire Lewandowski for his “inexcusable” behavior.

And in a National Review column about Coulter, Gingrich and Cegielski, Jim Geraghty berated his fellow conservatives for just now turning on Trump.

“He didn’t abruptly become reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, crude and catastrophically unqualified for the presidency overnight,” he wrote. “He’s always been that guy, and you denied it and ignored it and hand-waved it away and made excuses every step of the way because you were convinced that you were so much smarter than the rest of us.” 

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. 

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